|Sample pages from the Citizens Guide|
The terrain of government, politics, business and interest groups can be difficult to navigate without an experienced guide or a good map. You can find them both right here.
“You can’t read the Idaho Citizens Guide without increasing your knowledge enormously … I anticipate that it will become a standard reference volume in the libraries of every school, community, government office, elected official and campaign headquarters.” – former Governor Cecil D. Andrus
“As a long-time Idaho businessman, I also appreciate the need of citizens to be able to understand their government and how to get things done. The Citizens Guide can help.” – former Governor Philip E. Batt
This book was was originally published in 1999 and, with only a few small edits (and no real attempt at updating), that is what you have here. It is not a 2012 book, so some parts of it are clearly out of date.
It was a product of its time.
In 1999, all three of us lived in Idaho; now, we all live in different states (though we all stay in touch with the Gem State). We have changed what we do, and so have many (though not all) of the people who graciously contributed either forewords or commentary through the book; one has passed on. And some information current then, no longer is.
Reviewing this book, though, a remarkable amount of it needs no particular update.
The first section of the Guide looks at the pieces and divisions of government and how they work, and though a few elements have been shuffled in the years since, most is about the same as it was. Much of the book is taken up with an “encyclopedia” of terminology and general information useful to anyone who gets involved with Idaho public affairs. Not a lot of that has needed alteration during the dozen or so years since this was first written. The latter third or so of the book consists of perspective and advice from the three authors, and that too pretty much holds its place.
If you’re going to take what you read here on the road and make practical use of it, please, double-check – some things have changed.
But not as much as you might imagine …
From the original introduction …
Of the three of us, two – Stapilus and Weatherby – have worked on books before, a number of them. We have even worked together on another book on Idaho government. But the original idea and push for this one came from the third writer, Mark Stubbs.
He came up with the idea in 1993, after spending several years in the Idaho Legislature and noting how newcomers to the process (including, in the beginning, himself) often were baffled by the array of new terms and jargon they encountered, a whole new dialect for the politically-involved person.
The three of us worked on that idea for a time, then set it aside as other projects grabbed our attention (other travel and writing projects in the case of Weatherby and Stapilus, and a run for Congress in the case of Stubbs). In early 1999, all of us were again free to approach the project, but by this time in a new form.
The list of terms remained, and was added to, and appears as the largest single portion of this volume. (It’s called The Encyclopedia.) But two other sections were added.
Our feeling was that a list of terms and subject areas was not enough; context was needed as well, for the person interested in becoming involved in Idaho public affairs, or perhaps extending or perfecting their involvement. So two new sections were added.
One, The Organizations section at the beginning of the book, looks at government in Idaho from an organizational standpoint, describing what the various pieces of government do.
The Encyclopedia turns that around, including the terminology, background and jargon and also subject areas. (If you’re interested, for example, in aviation and want to know who is responsible for what in that area in Idaho, our entry will tell you.) Most of these entries were developed by the three authors; some of them were suggested by others.
Finally, we added a third section: How To. It is intended to provide some perspective and direction, helping you make use of the information in the first two sections. Here the three authors talk about how to get involved, from casting an intelligent vote to serving in elective office, and various steps in between. Most of this section is drawn from a series of conversations we had over the course of this year; our individual comments are noted as individual comments.